Torture Update

Psychologists’ role in interrogations.
Here’s some recent news, courtesy of Ken Pope, from the psychologists in interrogations issue written about previously on this blog. The text is excerpted from a statement on California Senate Bill 219 by Leonard S. Rubenstein, President of Physicians for Human Rights, and does a nice job of highlighting the problem with the American Psychological Association’s position:

It is this background that leads us to support the resolution you are offering. It states clearly that all health professionals should not participate in torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Moreover, it follows the approach the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association took after careful study, which holds that to be true to ethical commitments, physicians should not participate in the interrogation of individual detainees at all — even an interrogation that doesn’t involve torture or cruel treatment. These organizations adopted this stance in recognition that the traditional standard — no participation in torture and cruel treatment — is inadequate. I would like to review the reasons for this stance.

And another:

We are aware that some health professionals and the American Psychological Association wish to continue a role for health professionals in interrogations, and thus urge adherence to the pre-9/11 standard, which only prohibits participation in torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. But the experience of the past six years shows why that standard is unworkable and ineffective, and why both internationally — through the World Medical Association — and domestically, the majority approach since 9/11 has been to end the
participation of members of health professions obligated to ‘do no harm’ in interrogation altogether.

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.


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Clinical Psychologist practicing in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

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